Friday, 29 May 2015

ISIS and Freedom and fundamentalism

As a country we are forever tying ourselves up in knots, working out how to deal with the behaviour of people who sit at the extremes of religious fundamentalism. I was reminded of this today as BBC London featured a story where an ultra orthadox Rabbi has stated that women shouldn't drive and those that do, and drive their children to school, should be turned away at the gate. Whilst I personally cannot for a second fathom who anyone in this day and age would even want to follow such an ultra orthadox path, it is a free country. I do take the view that if you sign up to a club (or a religious education for your kids), then you sign up to their rulebook however ridiculous. If the women in question don't think that the school is setting a good example for their kids in the year 2015, then take your kids out of the school. If the Rabbi is simply expressing his opinion, fine, so what. You don't have to attend his Shul and there are plenty of sensible Rabbi's in London who run eminently sensible organisations. The way to change attitudes in such hard line communities is to vote with your feet. Of course there are some women who may feel that they can't oppose their husbands views and must stick with this nonsense, but surely if the husband has bought them a car, there is a need for a sensible family conversation.

Perhaps the worst example of extremism we see is ISIS. This organisation is rampaging across Syria and Iraq and perhaps more disturbing, hundreds of Western Muslims are attracted to join its Jihad. Western governments are at a loss to deal with this. I personally believe that we've approached the issue from completely the wrong angle. If I were in David Camerons shoes, I'd take a completely different approach. In a free country, we can't stop people joining ISIS. We can't stop them getting training and participating in military activity in foreign countries. So what can we do? Well I take the view that it is their choice to join an organisation committed to destroy everything we beleive in. Until they've actually committed a crime, they've done nothing wrong. Just thinking about it is a perfectly legal activity. So what we need to do is help them with their thought process. Where they pose a threat to us is not with the thinking about joing ISIS or even going to Syria to sign up. It is when they come back. We send a small fortune on trying to police this. The solution, as far as I am concerned is far more simple. We simply say "If you are planning to join ISIS, give us back your British Passport and we'll pay for a one way ticket to Syria. As you clearly hate our society and values, you won't be coming back though". I wonder how many of those who have gone, would have done so if they'd realised that it was a one way ticket?  As far as I am concerned, we are better off without such dangerous people. I am sure many will say "but what about impressionable teenagers, who have made a terrible mistake?" Teenagers make life changing terrible mistakes all the time. Some injure themselves, some kill themselves in acts of high stupidity. They do not however pose a risk to society at large. I don't believe in forcible deportation of British Citizens, but if they really hate our country and our way of life, then good riddance. I am sure that such a hard line policy would focus minds. Of course some will still go. Some will realise they've made a terrible mistake. There will be heart renching TV documentaries about how unfair the system is. But the bottom line is that if they feel they are old enough to make such a decision, they are old enough to live with the repercussions.

Like anyone who joins any fundamentalist religion and signs up to the rule book, they don't have to. If they sign up to one which simply has potty rules like women not driving, that only inconveniences them and is none of our business. If they sign up to one which sees our destruction, then that is a different matter. Then it becomes our business and we have to manage the risk as best we can. To me burying our heads in the sand is not managing the risk properly.

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